SpiNNaker

SpiNNaker is a novel massively-parallel computer architecture, inspired by the fundamental structure and function of the human brain, which itself is composed of billions of simple computing elements, communicating using unreliable spikes. A SpiNNaker machine is a massively parallel computing platform, targeted towards three main areas of research:

Neuroscience: Understanding how the brain works is a Grand Challenge of 21st century science. We will provide the platform to help neuroscientists to unravel the mystery that is the mind. The largest SpiNNaker machine will be capable of simulating a billion simple neurons, or millions of neurons with complex structure and internal dynamics.

Robotics: SpiNNaker is a good target for researchers in robotics, who need mobile, low power computation. A small SpiNNaker board makes it possible to simulate a network of tens of thousands of spiking neurons, process sensory input and generate motor output, all in real time and in a low power system.

Computer Science: SpiNNaker breaks the rules followed by traditional supercomputers that rely on deterministic, repeatable communications and reliable computation. SpiNNaker nodes communicate using simple messages (spikes) that are inherently unreliable. This break with determinism offers new challenges, but also the potential to discover powerful new principles of massively parallel computation.

The project's objectives are two-fold:

  • To provide a platform for high-performance massively parallel processing appropriate for the simulation of large-scale neural networks in real-time, as a research tool for neuroscientists, computer scientists and roboticists
  • As an aid in the investigation of new computer architectures, which break the rules of conventional supercomputing, but which we hope will lead to fundamentally new and advantageous principles for energy-efficient massively-parallel computing

Learn more about the SpiNNaker Project